When do we stop dreaming of our parents?

There’s my mother, lost again in the wrong nursing home and I am late, late to rescue her.

Always deserted by me, though of course in her alive and waking hours I hadn’t abandoned her. Yet I knew, in the years before she died, when she stared at me in raging frozen anger, I would never be forgiven for not rescuing her from her broken mind.

My father, strangely, delivers a side of him I barely saw – conciliatory, almost cozy.

A favorite dream; he arrives in a suit (though he never wore a suit in his life) saying, “I’m ready! Let’s go somewhere together!”  But I am busy. I can’t go. Though there were decades I would have run to be beside him.

I can’t pick the dreams. 

Never the choice of my mother, ready for a night out, her beauty incandescent, Chanel Number 5 left behind like an air kiss. Also not available for evening visits are the countless shared giggles over the kitchen table when we both smoked, me in my twenties, hungry for her grounding, she allowing, knowing. 

My father is never stumbling in the sand as he did at the beginning of his disease, somehow righting himself as we continued on. No excuses, no pity – a man of his generation -– he, the hero of my childhood wishes.

These dreams arrive on their own schedule. Their dispatch is consistent. 

I am doomed to co-exist with my parents through this medium, though I myself am now old. They have the liberty of messaging me wearing different personas, but the choice seems to be theirs.

What will my children dream when I am gone? Will I visit at all? If I could, providing comfort as some receive from their dreams, that would be fine. But the other – no. Spare my children those visits. Spare them the dreams. Let me be just – gone.